I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.
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WILLMAR — A $200,000-a-year federal grant for after-school programs has been awarded to Willmar Public Schools. Teachers Jim Mitteness at the Middle School and Jana Peterson at the Senior High will oversee the 21st Century Community Learning grant activities.
WILLMAR — Willmar Public Schools started the school year with a total of 39 new teachers and a handful of new administrators. Add in new employees in support positions, and schools in the district have a lot of fresh faces this fall. The number is a little larger than normal because some former employees of the West Central Integration Collaborative were hired by the school district after the collaborative office closed. The district added some employees this year to expand its small-group math instruction.
WILLMAR — The teachers in Willmar Public Schools recently started their second school year without a current contract. If Monday evening’s sometimes contentious negotiating session is an indication, Education Minnesota Willmar and the school district are facing a number of roadblocks to settling the contract which would cover July 1, 2013, to June 30, 2015. During a session lasting about three hours, the two sides started with a lengthy discussion of rewriting the contract’s seniority language.
WILLMAR — U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson said he believes his tenure in Congress is a benefit to the district, and he thinks farmers in western Minnesota would probably agree. Peterson’s opponent in the Nov. 4 election, state Sen. Torrey Westrom, R-Elbow Lake, has brought up Peterson’s 24 years in Congress as a campaign issue, saying it’s time for a change. “I don’t think that’s a negative,” Peterson said.
WILLMAR — The Willmar School Board will meet at 4:30 p.m. Monday in the board room on the first floor of the Willmar Education and Arts Center. A negotiations session with the district’s teachers is scheduled to begin immediately after the School Board meeting. The meeting agenda includes approval of the joint powers agreement between the city of Willmar and school district for the Willmar Community Education and Recreation Department. The board will discuss hiring a polling firm to conduct a survey related to the district’s facilities plan.
WILLMAR — Imagine being the first member of your family who’s ever gone to college, maybe even the first to graduate from high school. Would you know how to choose a major or find the right college, fill out applications, fill out financial aid forms?
WILLMAR — The culture of a school can affect the education delivered there, and it’s up to the adults involved to make sure their school has a nurturing culture and not a toxic one. Anthony Muhammad spoke Thursday at the Willmar Public Schools all-staff welcome at the Willmar Education and Arts Center.
WILLMAR — The release of state testing data indicates that scores for Willmar’s elementary schools increased from 2013 to 2014. The Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment, administered to students in April, is one of the tools school districts use to measure whether a school’s students are meeting the state’s expectations. The testing system is required by state and federal law. On October 1, the state will release its Multiple Measurement Ratings, which use the test scores and other information to look at achievement gaps and student growth from year to year.
WILLMAR — Ask retailers what families are shopping for before school starts, and the first answer is the same: Jeans. Following close behind denim would be boots. The season that traditionally gives retailers a boost going into the fall is in full swing and likely to last another couple weeks. The National Retail Federation has estimated that back-to-school shopping will increase about 5 percent over last year, with parents spending an average of $670 per child, including clothes, shoes, school supplies and electronics.
Teachers and staff from Kennedy Elementary School in Willmar walk into Bihi Restaurant in downtown Willmar Monday morning. The staff members walked downtown after a staff meeting to visit ethnic businesses. Food businesses provided free samples of their cooking. The visit was organized by the school's cultural liaisons to help improve awareness of different cultures. “Some staff have never been downtown,” said Anis Iman, one of the liaisons. He and Loida Espinoza said it was good for the businesses to have the exposure, too, and many of the owners have children in Willmar's schools.